ALEXANDER CITY, Ala.--Helped by improved sales of fleece, Russell Corp. reported third-quarter earnings rose 25 percent against a year ago. The comparison excludes a large special charge taken in the 1993 period.
The activewear maker earned $24.2 million, or 60 cents a share, in the quarter ended October 2, which compares with a profit of $19.3 million, or 47 cents, before the year-ago charge. Results came in somewhat below Wall Street estimates of 63 cents. Russell had a net loss of $3.8 million in the 1993 quarter after a $23 million charge, or 56 cents a share, to write down certain assets, primarily textile manufacturing equipment, and goodwill.
Sales in the latest quarter climbed 18.9 percent to $317.1 million from $266.6 million.
John C. Adams, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said that sales were driven by strong demand for fleece products and solid international growth.
The gain also reflected $25.6 million in sales from the recent acquisitions of The Game Inc., a sports licensing company, and DeSoto Mills Inc.
Adams added that gross margins were hurt by higher raw material costs and pricing competition. Selling, general, and administrative expenses were higher, principally because of acquisitions.
"The outlook for fall fleece is excellent, and Oct. 1 price increases on selected fleece products should have a positive impact on margins," Adams said.
In the nine months, earnings increased 4.6 percent to $50.3 million, or $1.25, from $48.1 million, or 4 cents, a year earlier. After the charge, year-ago earnings were reduced to $25 million, or 60 cents.
Sales advanced 16.5 percent to $792.8 million from $680.3 million.
Russell's stock on the New York Stock Exchange closed Friday at 29 3/8, down 1.
--Fairchild News Service

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